Race and Ethnicity: Essays in Comparative Sociology

By Pierre L. Van den Berghe | Go to book overview

non-Western cultures or exterminated native populations by conquest and the importation of epidemic diseases, the colonial powers introduced a fairly stable system of plantation slavery or peonage which favored both miscegenation and westernization. In Africa, the European impact has been much milder, both genetically and culturally, because the circumstances of conquest were less devasting, because migratory labor rather than slavery or peonage followed conquest, because Christianization was largely on a voluntary rather than forced basis, and because traditional structures were retained largely for administrative convenience rather than deliberately destroyed as in America. The Cape Province is the exception that proves the rule. There, the American pattern was applied--virtual extermination of the local population followed by plantation slavery. The results were, as in America, extensive miscegenation and acculturation, in spite of strong color prejudice and antiassimilationist policies on the part of the dominant whites. Slavery and what Gilberto Freyre called "latifundiary monoculture" have been the major agencies of westernization and miscegenation in colonial history, not racial tolerance.

In more theoretical terms, this chapter stresses the importance of structural determinism in cultural assimilation and miscegenation. Structural differences between the colonial societies established by the European powers in America and in Africa determined the differences of cultural history to a much greater extent than racial ideology or colonial policy in the various countries.


NOTES
1.
See, for example, Frank Tannenbaum, Slave and Citizen, the Negro in the Americas ( New York: Knopf, 1947).
2.
Roger Bastide, "Dusky Venus, Black Apollo," Race 3, no. 1 ( 1961): 10-18; Gilberto Freyre, The Masters and the Slaves ( New York: Knopf, 1956).
3.
On early Portuguese colonization of northwestern Angola, see

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